Gaultier back on court today against Mosaad
By SEAN REUTHE – Squash Mad Correspondent
The 2020 edition of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, PSA World Tour Platinum event got under way in New York yesterday with two of the three US players in action falling to narrow 3-2 defeats under the chandeliers of Grand Central Terminal’s stunning Vanderbilt Hall.
Men’s US No.1 Todd Harrity and local man Chris Hanson were backed to the hilt by home support, but both men ultimately fell in five games to Hong Kong’s Leo Au and Mexico’s Cesar Salazar, respectively, to narrowly miss out on a spot in round two of the first PSA World Tour event of 2020.
Harrity, the current World No.59, twice clawed back a one-game deficit against World No.22 Au, but fell to an 11-8 defeat in the deciding fifth game to send him out of the event at the first hurdle, with Au booking a last 32 spot against England’s Tom Richards.
“Todd is obviously a top player,” said Au after his 200th PSA World Tour victory. “He always hangs in there and never gives up. He gave me a lot of pressure and I’m glad that I could get through it in the end.”
Meanwhile, New York’s Hanson put himself on the verge of a surprise victory against World No.23 Salazar, leading 2-1 after some well-constructed rallies and consistent line hitting saw the World No.67 impress in front of his home fans.
But 32-year-old Salazar held firm to take a crucial fourth game, before dropping just a handful of points in the fifth to seal his last 32 berth, where he will play India’s Saurav Ghosal.
“It’s always hard when you play against a local player,” said Salazar afterwards. “Chris has improved a lot in the last few months and years. I tried to start very focused on my game and my strategy. I know a lot of the crowd was with him, but I tried to be very focused, but he won the first game and that was important for the confidence, but after that I tried to come back and I started to play better with my movement and shots.”
The other American in action was another New Yorker – World No.91 Christopher Gordon – who went down to Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly by an 11-7, 11-8, 11-4 margin.
One of the day’s standout matches featured Qatar’s Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi against France’s Lucas Serme, with the former coming back from two games behind to claim his first ever win at the historic tournament.
Al Tamimi squandered two game balls in the second game, but overcame that disappointment to seal a 4-11, 11-13, 11-4, 11-9, 11-7 victory to ensure he will play World Championship runner-up Paul Coll for a place in the last 16.
“I really started slow and I wasn’t playing with a high pace,” said Al Tamimi. “Rodney [Martin] was on my side today and kept pushing me to play my style of game which is fast and try to volley a bit more. Put pressure on the back of the court, I play that up and down and I’m really glad that I finished that fourth game and I knew that if I could keep that pace in the fifth then it would be good for me.”
There were also wins for Egyptian teenager Mostafa Asal, Mathieu Castagnet, Campbell Grayson and Youssef Soliman at Grand Central, while at the Harvard Club of New York, French World No.42 Baptiste Masotti upset England’s Adrian Waller, the World No.19, winning 11-13, 11-7, 11-8, 11-4 to set up a second round fixture with Soliman.
The New York Athletic Club also hosted a selection of first round fixtures, with Spain’s Iker Pajares Bernabeu beating Malaysia’s Ivan Yuen 3-1 in 69 minutes.
Round two of the men’s tournament begins today (Friday). Former World No.1 Gregory Gaultier will make his highly-anticipated return to PSA action after 15 months out due to a knee injury (against giant Egyptian Omar Mosaad), while the women’s event gets under way with five US players in action.
Action begins at 12:00 (GMT-5) and play from Grand Central Terminal will be broadcast on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour.
BRITWATCH: Victories for Declan James, Tom Richards and Greg Lobban, but day one exits for Alan Clyne, Adrian Waller and George Parker.
Second Round draws: Tom meets Leo Au tonight. Busy day tomorrow with Joel Makin up against Diego Elias of Peru and an all-British blockbuster between Lobban and James Willstrop. Plus Declan James against Hong Kong’s Tsz Fung Yip.
GENERAL IS BACK IN TOWN: If you see a Frenchman dancing all the way down 42nd Street, that will be Gregory Gaultier on his way to Grand Central to play Omar Mosaad in his big PSA comeback match tonight.
2020 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, Grand Central Terminal, New York, USA.
Men’s First Round:
Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt Alan Clyne (SCO) 3-0: 11-6, 11-9, 11-7 (39m)
Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-1: 11-3, 11-9, 8-11, 11-5 (46m)
Baptiste Masotti (FRA) bt Adrian Waller (ENG) 3-1: 11-13, 11-7, 11-8, 11-4 (44m)
Tom Richards (ENG) bt Karim El Hammamy (EGY) 3-1: 11-2, 9-11, 11-1, 11-3 (32m)
Leo Au (HKG) bt Todd Harrity (USA) 3-2: 11-5, 7-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-8 (64m)
Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) bt Lucas Serme (FRA) 3-2: 4-11, 11-13, 11-4, 11-9, 11-7 (62m)
Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt Ramit Tandon (IND) 3-0: 11-8, 11-3, 11-7 (53m)
Eain Yow Ng (MAS) bt George Parker (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-9, 11-7 (45m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt Arturo Salazar (MEX) 3-0: 11-7, 11-2, 11-3 (26m)
Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) bt Ivan Yuen (MAS) 3-1: 11-8, 12-10, 5-11, 11-9 (69m)
Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) bt Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) 3-1: 11-9, 10-12, 12-10, 11-7 (51m)
Declan James (ENG) bt Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-6, 11-5 (44m)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt [WC] Chris Hanson (USA) 3-2: 10-12, 11-7, 4-11, 11-8, 11-5 (60m)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt Edmon Lopez (ESP) 3-0: 11-2, 11-6, 11-2 (26m)
Greg Lobban (SCO) bt Max Lee (HKG) 3-1: 11-7, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6 (58m)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt [WC] Christopher Gordon (USA) 3-0: 11-7, 11-8, 11-4 (40m)
Men’s Second Round (January 10th):
 Ali Farag (EGY) v Mazen Hesham (EGY)
Youssef Soliman (EGY) v Baptiste Masotti (FRA)
Tom Richards (ENG) v Leo Au (HKG)
Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) v  Paul Coll (NZL)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v Mostafa Asal (EGY)
Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Eain Yow Ng (MAS) v Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)
Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
Men’s Second Round (January 11th):
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP)
Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) v Declan James (ENG)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) v Saurav Ghosal (IND)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) v  Simon Rösner (GER)
 Diego Elias (PER) v Joel Makin (WAL)
James Willstrop (ENG) v Greg Lobban (SCO)
Zahed Salem (EGY) v Gregoire Marche (FRA)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
Women’s First Round (January 10th):
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) [Bye]
Coline Aumard (FRA) v Hollie Naughton (CAN)
Millie Tomlinson (ENG) v [WC] Marina Stefanoni (USA)
 Annie Au (HKG) [Bye]
 Yathreb Adel (EGY) [Bye]
Melissa Alves (FRA) v Zeina Mickawy (EGY)
Rowan Elaraby (EGY) v Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG)
 Camille Serme (FRA) [Bye]
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) [Bye]
Tsz Lok Ho (HKG) v Emily Whitlock (ENG)
Nada Abbas (EGY) v Rachel Arnold (MAS)
 Alison Waters (ENG) [Bye]
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) [Bye]
Danielle Letourneau (CAN) v Mariam Metwally (EGY)
Rachael Grinham (AUS) v Alexandra Fuller (RSA)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) [Bye]
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) [Bye]
Lucy Turmel (ENG) v Donna Lobban (AUS)
Nadine Shahin (EGY) v Tsz-Wing Tong (HKG)
 Salma Hany (EGY) [Bye]
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) [Bye]
Haley Mendez (USA) v Tinne Gilis (BEL)
Low Wee Were (MAS) v Julianne Courtice (ENG)
 Joelle King (NZL) [Bye]
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) [Bye]
Olivia Fiechter (USA) v Nele Gilis (BEL)
Joey Chan (HKG) v Sabrina Sobhy (USA)
 Victoria Lust (ENG) [Bye]
 Tesni Evans (WAL) [Bye]
Jasmine Hutton (ENG) v Olivia Blatchford Clyne (USA)
Milou van der Heijden (NED) v Lisa Aitken (SCO)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) [Bye]
Report by SEAN REUTHE (PSA). Edited by ALAN THATCHER.
Pictures courtesy of PSA